NY ‘TREES’ Act Passes NY Legislature, Heads to Governor's Desk

Historic NY ‘TREES’ Act Passes Both Houses of NY Legislature, Heads to Governor’s Desk

Following in EU’s footsteps, bill would make New York the first state to prevent its public procurement from driving tropical deforestation, defending the planet from further climate catastrophe

ALBANY, N.Y. – Today, the Tropical Rainforest Economic & Environmental Sustainability (TREES) Act passed through the New York State Senate. This follows the bill’s passage in the Assembly on Monday, sending it to Gov. Hochul’s desk for signing into law. Hochul, who is visiting the Vatican this week to highlight New York’s climate leadership and was recently appointed a co-chair of the U.S. Climate Alliance, has until the end of the year to sign the legislation, which she vetoed last year.

If passed, the TREES Act would make New York the first state in the nation to require companies contracting with state and local governments to prove their supply chains are not contributing to tropical deforestation or associated abuses of human rights. This policy follows in the footsteps of the European Union, which enacted its own economy-wide deforestation regulations in June 2023. 

“By shifting the use of taxpayer money from destroying climate-critical forests towards protecting forests and forest communities, the TREES Act is a powerful example of a commonsense climate solution that is both visionary and entirely doable,” said Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager with Friends of the Earth. “We thank the NY State legislature for passing it for the second time, and hope that Governor Hochul will recognize this as a great opportunity to demonstrate her leadership.” 

At the federal level, a similar law, the FOREST Act, is moving through Congress to prohibit U.S. imports of commodities produced on illegally deforested land and strengthen the nation’s ability to prosecute deforestation-related crimes, such as violence against human rights defenders.

Alfred Brownell, Liberian human rights attorney and winner of the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize, said: “Around the world, Earth defenders, climate activists and Indigenous communities are giving their lives to defend rainforests from destruction by multinational corporations. The NY TREES Act is exactly the kind of law we need to prevent this violence and begin the healing of our planet.”

Deforestation is the second-largest driver of climate emissions, driven by globally traded agricultural commodities such as cattle, soy, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, timber and wood products, and is a major cause of the planet’s accelerating biodiversity loss. Globally, an estimated 18 million acres of forest – more than half the size of New York State – are lost each year due to deforestation, and over one-half of Earth’s tropical forests are already gone, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Zenzi Suhadi, Executive Director of the Indonesian Forum on the Environment, highlighted a critical aspect of the NY TREES bill in preventing attacks on forest defenders in his home country, one of the world’s largest rainforest nations: “Legislators, Governor Hochul – unlike us, you don’t have to face criminalization and abuse to stop deforestation – you just have to use your pen to sign this bill into law.” 

The NY TREEs Act is a revised version of the NY Tropical Deforestation-Free Procurement Act, which Gov. Hochul vetoed in 2023. The new bill makes several changes to address the Governor’s concerns, while retaining critical aspects of the bill that will hold global businesses to a high standard of transparency and accountability. The bill includes incentives to support New York businesses, including a Supply Chain Transparency Assistance Program to help New York-based small and medium-sized businesses establish more ethical and sustainable supply chains while ensuring they have the tools they need to compete in the national and global marketplace.

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, [email protected], (202) 222-0746

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